Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Clay Aiken Telling His Parents.

Clay Aiken's coming out story is now up on

Clay's story, his rise to superstardom, and now his coming out, is truly something unique. I mean remember back when he first auditioned? Here was this totally geeky, completely impossible, performer and, well, mama's boy.

His eyebrows were bushy, his hair was stupid, his glasses dorky -- and I remember Simon all but laughing him off, since, for him, looks are mandatory for an "idol."

But he had this magnificent instrument. Without this show, Aiken would never have made it. The music industry is not looking for people who look or sound like Clay Aiken. It's doubtful that even if they had, they would have been able to market him. He doesn't fit into any available formats.

The other thing that's interesting about him is that he was raised in a conservative Christian home, and that this is a source of pain for both him and his family. This is from the article:
The born-again Christian singer also reveals how he told his mother Faye he's gay four years ago. After dropping off his younger brother Brett, who was being deployed to Iraq, at Camp Lejeune, "I started crying in the car," Aiken remembers. "It was dark. I was sitting there, thinking to myself. I don't know why I started thinking about it ... I just started bawling. She made me pull over the car and it just came out."

So what was his mom's reaction? "She started crying. She was obviously somewhat stunned. But she was very supportive and very comforting." Even now, Aiken admits, "She still struggles with things quite a bit, but she's come a long way."
And that pretty much describes the situation for all us southern boys with Baptist families. Some family members totally embrace the fact of a person's gayness and some "struggle" with it. It's easy for some to feel cynical about Clay Aiken. He's the easiest of targets. For years, people were goading him to just come out, already.

(And I get that. I get that we glbt persons are better, as a group, when more of us come out. That was the lesson taught to us by Harvey Milk and Leonard Matlovich. Our families need to see us. Our co-workers should know we exist.)

I don't know Clay Aiken so I'm only presuming, but I relate to him as a small town southern boy trying to live his own life -- the kind of life so many fantastize; a life he earned by being talented.)

Each in our own time, each at our own pace, each in our own way. Coming out is a process; a journey, not a race. Unlike most journeys, there is no one destination in mind, only a direction. Keep on. When you stray, or slow down, don't be afraid to ask advice or direction. Your journey is yours alone, and regardless of where you end up, or when, don't let anyone else plan the trip."

--Steve Basile, PFLAG/Austin

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